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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL5752M The Brontes

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Denis Flannery

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

As for MA scheme enrolled on.

This module is not approved as an Elective


On completion of this module, students should be able to reflect seriously on major issues relating to the Brontes' oeuvre including the development of realism and the emergence of a distinctively 'Victorian' form of fiction, together with thematic considerations including theology and the supernatural, the gothic, the legacy of Romanticism, gender, and the possibilities of the political novel.

Skills outcomes
Masters (Taught), Postgraduate Diploma & Postgraduate Certificate students will have had the opportunity to acquire the following abilities as defined in the modules specified for the programme:
- the skills necessary to undertake a higher research degree and/or for employment in a higher capacity;
- evaluating their own achievement and that of others;
- self direction and effective decision making;
- independent learning and the ability to work in a way which ensures continuing professional development;
- to engage critically in the development of professional/disciplinary boundaries and norms.


Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë lived in the town of Haworth near Keighley, only twenty miles or so from Leeds. They wrote some of the most distinctive and celebrated fiction of the early nineteenth-century, and their work remains hugely popular today, inspiring novels of tribute and many adaptations in film, dance, and music. Together with their parents, their lost sisters, and their blighted brother Branwell, they have become a family of almost-mythic significance. This module invites you to consider the trio's work in detail and in dialogue, by investigating their differences and their similarities. It will enable you to assess the validity of seeing ‘the Brontës’ as a group, and as uniquely creative individuals.

The module is structured chronologically, beginning in the early 1830s when the four surviving Brontë siblings began to shape their imaginative play into artistic creation. Working in pairs, Charlotte & Branwell, Emily & Anne left a legacy of stories and poems concerning the invented African kingdoms of Glass Town, Angria and Gondal. These early works show clear debts to Romanticism and the Gothic, while also revealing a precocious consciousness of the literary marketplace. A tour of the Brotherton Library's significant collection of Brontë manuscripts, alongside an exploration of this juvenilia, acts as an introduction to the mature novels and poetry.

The module continues through the major work of the three sisters, who burst onto the literary scene in 1847 under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. As the weeks progress, you will be invited to explore how these very different writers navigate common themes, including the supernatural, religious belief, female vocation, and sexual desire. The sisters were anticipating and imagining their future literary reputations from their youthful experiments in Angria and Gondal, and the module will locate their fiction within the wider phenomenon of the Victorian novel and its engagement with the bildungsroman, industrialization, labour and community. Emily Brontë's extraordinary lyric poetry will be considered alongside her siblings' less accomplished verse, and as a counterpoint to Wuthering Heights.

Studying the Brontës in Leeds will enable you to think about their work in the very particular context of their native West Yorkshire, and to understand how this county’s very specific early nineteenth-century mixture of industrial and agricultural landscapes played a formative role in the making of their fiction.
The module will open and close with a consideration of their reputation, mythology and legacy, through a reading of Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of her friend Charlotte.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours280.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

research, reading, seminar preparation, unassessed essay preparation

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

One unassessed essay of 2,000 words.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
EssayOne 4,000 word essay. One unassessed essay/discussion notes of 2000 words is also required.100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00


Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 08/08/2022


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